Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Making the Quicktime Q Go Away

I just installed iTunes on my laptop to see if I can access our home music library over the network. (I'll blog more on that once I try it out). The installation also defaults to putting a QuickTime "Q" in the system tray. Apple doesn't make it very easy to find where you stop this "Q" from showing up, so I thought I'd share it with y'all.

Right-click on the "Q" in your system tray and select QuickTime Preferences from the context menu. Click on the Advanced tab and uncheck the Install QuickTime icon in system tray option near the bottom. Click OK and the "Q" should finally go away!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

In Fear of Wishful Thinking

Our daughter has started making a new combination of sounds that may, or may not, be her first word. Most of the time, the sounds she makes involve repeating a single phoneme. Sometimes the pitch varies and sometimes it doesn't. Variants on 'eeeee' are the most common, 'though she also frequently makes this 'nguh' noise that I can only come close to duplicating if I keep my mouth closed.

Over the past couple of weeks, she has occassionally said 'aaaaaaeeeeee'. DW has remarked that it is very much like the first time Stitch says 'hi' in the original Lilo & Stitch movie. It also shares many of the same qualities as the enthusiastic, stretched out 'hi's that we're in the habit of uttering when she greets one of us with an enormous, dimpled grin -- talk about joy being contagious! -- or when we find she's already woken up from a nap. She seems to use it appropriately; however, it is like a valuable treasure that she only occassionally allows us to glimpse, so it is hard to be certain.

Nonetheless, I find myself thinking about that 'Aaaeee' a lot lately and it always brings a smile to my face. At first. In about the same amount of time that it takes me to realize that I'm smiling, a voice in my head pops up and tells me "there's not enough evidence yet" and "don't get your hopes up". There's real pain and disappointment in that voice and I know it's just trying to protect me from experiencing more of the same, but it goddamn pisses me off. When did I become such an overwhelming grump? Would it be so bad to give up being a cynic for just a little while?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Modern Medicine's Lack of Logic

I've come to the conclusion that, while technology continues to progress, the attitudes and viewpoint of those in the medical community are regressing. Medicine in its current incarnation is not deserving of the title "Science". The primary evidence of this? The lack of a holistic view of health.

I'm not even talking about including spiritual, or even psychological health, but just the most basic idea of the body as a single, interrelated system.

To start with, look at the insurance situation in the United States. If you have Medical Insurance, why do you also need Dental and Vision? Last time I checked, teeth and eyes are part of your body. What's next, Dermal Insurance?

This attitude that physical health can somehow be neatly compartmentalized is also evident in the attitudes of many members of the medical community. When talking to numerous health practitioners about our daughter's autism diagnosis, I have been shocked and amazed by the number of people who take the attitude: "it's a neurological disorder, there's no way diet or circulatory conditions could have an impact on it."

What!? Are they really that stupid? Is there some invisible forcefield in everyone's body that keeps these things separate? Are the materials that make up neurons and neurotransmitters spontaneously generated?

I may be working as a software developer, but my undergraduate and graduate training are in Physics. As such, I know of what I speak and when it comes to scientific methodology, the practice of modern medicine is closer to astrology than any true science.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Getting closer...

A little less than two years ago, I blogged on the subject of watches; specifically, where I thought they should fit in the technology landscape. In that post, I described the features I'd like to see in a watch. Well, today I heard an announcement of a watch that's getting pretty close to that ideal. It's the Bluetooth watch from Fossil. The styling is a bit bland and it only connects to Sony Ericsson cell phones, but hey, it's a start. I also like that it includes two-way communication that allows you to send the caller to voice mail with the press of a watch button.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Word of the Day

Heck, this one's more like "Word for My Life"

You've probably heard the saying "Why do today what you can put off 'til tomorrow?" Most of us readily associate the word procrastinate with this sentiment, which turns out to be very apt. See, it turns out the 'cras' in procrastinate is Latin for 'tomorrow' so procrastinate literally means to put off until tomorrow.

But what about someone who makes procrastinators seem ahead of the game? The ones who followed up the cliché above with "Why put off 'til tomorrow what you can put off 'til the next day?" Thanks to the podcast of the very fun NPR show "A Way with Words" I now know the appropriate term for that sentiment: perendinate, literally 'to put off until the day after tomorrow. I love it!

Oh. Darn. I actually heard the podcast containing this word a couple of months ago and am just getting around to posting a blog entry about it... Now I need to find a word that means 'to put off until the month after next'...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Wait and F**king See

Back in college, we used to have a running joke about how the infirmary seemed obsessed about giving out packets of "salt and soda gargle" for almost any ailment. Got a cold? Salt & soda gargle. A stomach ache? Salt & soda gargle. A broken leg? Salt & soda gargle. Your left arm just fell off? Salt & soda gargle. It was funny in large part because the health services were essentially free so no one really expected fantastic service.

Unfortunately, I have come to realize that you should expect the same level of service in the "real world", particularly when it comes to health care for your kids. Only now the miracle cure isn't salt and soda gargle, it's "wait and see". Your child has a cold? Wait and see. A stomach ache? Wait and see. Reflux so persistent that she's either in constantly soaked clothes or has to have a binky in her mouth, which is interfering with her being able to develop her already severely delayed language skills? You guessed it... wait and f**king see.

I don't really know why I expected any different. The perception our society holds for doctors is that they are somehow superhuman -- after all, they survive all those years of school and a grueling internship, they must be to intellectual prowess what Navy seals are to physical fitness. In reality this is only an ideal, how we wish doctors would be.

I see the same thing in my own profession -- software development. There are a woefully small number of software developers who actually give a crap about what they do and an even smaller percentage of those who have the skills to do it well. Most are either clumsy wannabes or only in it for the money. The same principle applies to doctors, apparently.

Of course, the wait and see response is a perfect hedge against litigation -- after all how can you be sued for malpractice if you never practice at all!

Friday, June 02, 2006

The state of GF/CF foods

When I started my stint as a vegetarian 14 years ago, the options that were available were pretty slim and a lot of them were positively ghastly. The worst offenders were those that attempted to replicate the texture and flavor of meat. Here's a hint: you can't, so don't bother. Now, of course, there are a gazillion choices for meat-free alternatives and not surprisingly the best are those that have embraced the goal of making something that tastes good in its own rights.

The situation today with gluten and casein free foods is very much like it once was with vegetarian foods. There are many attempts at producing a gluten-free version of a wheat-based staple -- such as cakes, muffins, and pancakes -- but the truth of the matter is that most of them s**k. Once again the best ones don't try to be exact replicas. More companies need to focus not on how to make a gluten-free cake mix, but on gluten-free alternatives to cake. No doubt it will take a lot of experimenting, but with the rise in diagnoses of ASD, here's hoping that we start seeing more palatable options!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Veg-head no more (for now)

The big news in my personal life is that I've (temporarily) given up being a vegetarian. With DD on a GF/CF diet and DS allergic to wheat, soy and egg yolks, it really limits what the family as a whole can eat. In light of the fact that neither of the kids chose their dietary constraints, continuing to add my own, optional vegetarianism into the mix would be the height of selfishness. And so, I've reintroduced meat into my diet. I started small a couple of weeks ago with just poultry and fish. I still have a hard time ingesting mammals, although I have no trouble overcoming that when the practically intoxicating taste of bacon and pepperoni are concerned.

I also see this as just a temporary change. Some day, if I'm still walking around at that point, the kids will be out on their own and I can once again remove meat from my diet. The ideal of vegetarianism is still one of my core values, it just happens to be lower than the value I hold on my family!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Adventures in Autism

I've certainly been reading a lot more about Autism Spectrum Disorders that I ever thought I would be. DD's primary delays are in the realm of "expressive and receptive language". The team diagnosed other symptoms to a mild degree, but I have yet to be convinced whether any of those are part of her ASD, or are a result of her primary challenge, or are just normal individual variation. That's one of the things that has struck me about ASD -- the large number of symptom-groups and how much individual kids vary in which ones they have and to what degree. Bobby might have severe delay in A & B and a milder difficulty with D, while Billy has a lot of trouble with C and some issues with B & E.

The other thing that's struck me is the wide range of treatments and the fact that nothing's definitely effective in all cases. While my own science background is not in biology, the studies I've read and the widely varying anectodal evidence strongly suggests that there is not just one cause of ASD. There are likely multiple causes and therefore different kids will have different results for a given treatment. For DD, a glutin-free casein-free diet has definitely made a difference. This suggests that an opiate reaction may be part of what's causing her symptoms. Again, however, I don't believe there is necessarily a single cause for ASD. So while she will be starting Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy soon, we will also be pushing for more tests to be done where appropriate.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Barney is Evil

DW went to the video store with the kids yesterday and, among other things, brought home... a Barney video. DS really wanted to watch it last night but I distracted and cajoled him long enough that it was soon time for bed. This morning, I wandered through the living room and found that his mother had put it on for him. I've seen Barney before, of course (witness the delay tactics from the night before), but it had thankfully been a while. The topics are insipid and the writing is irritatingly lacking in creativity. Perhaps the most disturbing thing, however, is the performance of Barney's kid costars. Their faked smiles, their stiffly precise movements, it seems as if Barney has devoured their souls and is animating their lifeless bodies like his marionettes. Or maybe it doesn't just appear that way... ;Þ

Friday, January 06, 2006

Our own little Mount Ve-spew-vius

Earlier this evening, I was working in the home office when I heard my wife call out my name in that tone, instantly recognizable to all parents, that indicates the $#!& has hit the fan. I saved my work (safe computing before all else) and hustled downstairs. A glimpse into the dining room revealed DD in her highchair and DW standing holding the tray away from both of them in the universal manner that indicates ...here there be vomit. "Get something to clean her up", DW calls. I hurry to comply and when I return to the dining room I am able to take a closer look at the carnage. DD's left sleeve is covered and there's a fist size pile in her lap. The highchair tray is covered with a similar quantity. Not much for you or I but sizable for a one year old. Just as I arrive, however, she hurls again. Soundlessly, a tube of partially digested mystery lunch arcs down from her mouth and joins its cousin in her lap. The smell of bile and overcooked meat fills the room. Quickly, DW and I strip her out of her onesie and clean off her face and neck. I hold our diaper-clad daughter to my chest and grab a blanket from the pack-n-play while my noble wife starts the clean up effort. A few minutes later, DD gags and pushes herself away from my shoulder. Once again her mouth opens and emits a stream of hurlage. I don't think I could have contained it all even if I had had both hands free and the composure/lunacy to try to catch it. Instead, the gack landed securely in the crook formed between her body and my prodigious belly. I began walking her from the living room to the kitchen, where my saintly wife had moved on to rinsing the outfit that was the first victim of the evening's retch-fest. No sooner did I arrive at her side, when DD yacked again, and again it was voluminous. I am convinced that the episodes had by now produced regurgitations equal to her own weight. Freshly cleaned, DD was laid in the pack-n-play by my wife while I added my sweat- & tee-shirts to the growing pile of debris. How could she possibly have had that much food in her body in the first place? At least it was all out now. ...or so I thought, for as I was donning a nice, clean, dry shirt, the puke-o-rama was claiming another victim, this time in the form of the pack-n-play sheet. Should we call FEMA? DW and I continued the cleaning -- okay, it was still mostly DW -- and joked about the evenings events. We heard a happy coo from the other room and I remarked that at least everything seemed to be hunky-dory now. DW replied, "Don't you mean chunky-dory?"